The Chinese Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu has been in contact with the next-of-kin of those who had perished, or are still listed as missing in a boat capsize incident off Pulau Mengalum, last year. (Pix by MALAI ROSMAH TUAH)

KOTA KINABALU: The Chinese Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu has been in contact with the next-of-kin of those who had perished, or are still listed as missing in a boat capsize incident off Pulau Mengalum, last year.

On Jan 28 last year, a catamaran with 28 Chinese tourists, including a child, en route to Pulau Mengalum, capsized. Four were found dead and four are still missing.

Consul General Liang Caide said, since he assumed office four months ago, he had met with several ministers and raised the issue.

"The victims and the family members have appointed lawyers. The Consulate has been in contact with them through the lawyers.

"We have sent our people to court to hear the case (against the boat owner and skipper) and to update them (on the latest development)," he said.

He hoped that the court case will be concluded soon so that the next-of-kin will obtain closure.

The court has set the period of Jan 29 to Feb 2 for the trial of the three accused - Leong Vin Jee, 45; his mother Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 65; and skipper Sharezza Salian, 27.

Following the deadly incident, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) launched Ops Mengalum in Feb last year to ensure that boat operators in the state prioritise the safety of tourists.

MMEA Sabah and Labuan regional director Rear Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som had said that between Feb 18 to April 22 last year, 29 boats had been subjected to action for a host of offences, including having expired or mismatched information on their licences, carrying passengers without life jackets, having inadequate life buoys onboard, and using non-designated jetties.

He said the agency has been continuously patrolling the area to ensure boat owners follow maritime regulations.

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